After more than a decade of building the New Oxford High School cheer program into a national power, Chris Topper decided it was time for a new challenge.
Topper and his fellow New Oxford coaches started the Hanover Elite Cheer program in June to offer a competitive youth cheer program to the surrounding communities. The program, based out of a training facility at 1754 Carlisle Pike in Oxford Township, is the first of its kind in Adams County. Before its creation, if Hanover-Adams cheerleaders wanted to compete in elite-level cheer, they would have to travel to Cheer Tyme Inc. in Mechanicsburg, Eagles Elite Cheer in Taneytown, Md., or any of the multiple programs in York.
“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do," Topper said. "It’s a challenge, it’s a different style of cheerleading, it’s more intense, and I wanted to give kids an opportunity to cheer at a high level.”
Hanover Elite Cheer offers two 14-and-under teams and one 8-and-under team, but Topper said he plans to add a high school-aged team in the future. One of the major benefits of the new program is that it allows the New Oxford coaches to extend those opportunities throughout the Hanover-Adams area.
Not all local districts offer competitive high school or junior high programs, so some families from those schools reached out to Topper in hopes of getting involved with New Oxford's successful program. One of those was Madison Wallen, a 14-year-old cheerleader who lives in the Bermudian Springs School District. She participated in the New Oxford Relics youth cheer program when she was younger but couldn't continue with New Oxford when she entered junior high school at Bermudian.
“Unfortunately, because of her age and since she wasn’t in the district, she would not have been able to continue with them unless she was a junior high cheerleader," Madison's mother, Deb, said. "We would’ve had to take her to Mechanicsburg or Maryland. When we found out he was going to be opening HEC, we were really, really excited.”
Hanover Elite Cheer competed at its first competition Dec. 13. The scoring sheet used in all-star cheer is different from the scoring sheet used in high school cheer, and most of Hanover Elite's competition came from well-established all-star programs that have been around for years
“It went well, it was a learning experience," Topper said. "We got a lot of good feedback from the judges and the other coaches. We’re just gonna grow from there.”